As pastors we serve the people entrusted to our care. We also serve each other, in various ways, including these: word-and-deed encouragement to each other and prayers for each other.
Psalm 112 is a beautiful psalm which encourages and informs such service.
Listen to this setting of Psalm 112 from Christian Worship with its refrain: “Light dawns in the darkness for the upright.” Then let’s ponder what this Psalm means for shepherds like us.
Psalm 112 could be characterized as a wisdom psalm. Distinctive wisdom literature features include its acrostic structure, its use of the “blessed is the man” formula, and its contrasting of the righteous with the wicked.
Psalm 112 is closely tied to Psalm 111. Both Psalms are acrostics. Psalm 111 portrays the character of the LORD, and Psalm 112 portrays the character of those who fear him. The parallels are striking. Consider these three:
1. The righteousness of the LORD endures forever (111:3); the righteousness of those who fear the LORD endures forever (112:3).
2. The LORD is compassionate and gracious (111:4); the upright person is righteous and compassionate and gracious (112:4).
3. The works of the LORD are steadfast (111:8); the heart of the righteous person who trusts in the LORD is steadfast (112:7).
The first and last verse of the Psalm contrast the blessedness of those who fear the LORD (verse 1) with the cursed longings of the wicked (verse 10). Between those bookends, the psalm has three sections which emphasize the blessings of godly wisdom: verses 2-3, verse 5, and verse 9. These blessings include wealth and riches from God, a generous and just life, and the ability to be scattering gifts to the poor as our Savior does (see 2 Cor 9).
Between these three sections are two sections of adversity (verse 4 and verses 6-8) that state adversity’s inability to take away the blessings of the righteous. Even in the darkness light dawns for the upright. The righteous man will not be shaken. He will not be afraid. He will be remembered forever. He will look in triumph on all his foes.
As we ponder this psalm, we are reminded that righteousness is like a two-sided coin. On the one side, those who fear the LORD are given a righteousness which is not their own. They are forgiven and declared righteous. The LORD has made us righteous through the work of his hands, through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, the holy one of God. The robe of righteousness that God has place upon his people is the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The other side of the coin is also exciting: The LORD calls us to live a life of righteousness, grace, and compassion—reflecting his character.
How can such a thing be possible in sinners like us? Only by His Word and by His Spirit. As we ponder and marvel at the great works of the LORD, the Holy Spirit motivates, equips, and empowers us to be and live like him. The LORD who exerted his mighty power to raise our Savior from the dead uses his power daily to raise us up “to live before God in righteousness and purity forever” (Fourth of Baptism).
We celebrate our “passive righteousness” (given freely as a gift through faith) by our “active righteousness” (faith expressing itself in love). In this way, we thank God for his eternal grace and show ourselves to be brothers of Christ and children of our heavenly Father.
Psalms 111 and 112 help us to ponder the amazing works God—for us and in us.
Brothers, we are ministers of the Word who preach the wonders of God by what we say (preaching and teaching) and by how we live (wise and godly living). Godly pastors are great blessings to God’s people. But who is equal to such a task? “Lord, have mercy on us all. Make your light to shine in us and through us. When others look at us, may they see you.”